Logo Polskiego Radia

Russia to rehabilitate victims of “Little Katyn”?

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 01.10.2012 09:26
A Moscow District Court will consider the rehabilitation of a group of victims of the 1945 Augustow Round-up, an event viewed as the largest Soviet crime on Polish territory since WWII.

Memorial near the Augustow Forest: photo - wikipedia

The application was filed by Russian human rights organisation Memorial, a body that has cooperated with Polish institutions on many occasions.

About 2000 Poles were arrested in the vicinity of the Augustow Forest, north east Poland in July 1945.

The arrests were organised by the Red Army's counter-intelligence service, SMERSH, with the detainees accused of having links to the Polish resistance.

Some 562 of the Poles were never seen again.

Memorial has already filed an application for rehabilitation concerning all of the 562 victims, but Monday's case concerns just 14 Poles, whose case was filed separately.

On 28 May, the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation rejected the rehabilitation of the 14, claiming that there was no archival record of such a crime against the Poles.

However, Memorial challenged this decision in a Moscow District Court, noting that at an earlier date, the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office had in fact officially acknowledged the arrests.

In April this year, Poland obtained copies of archival documents in which Russia's Major General Gorgonov called for a plane to be sent to Poland “with a group of experienced counter-intelligence officers, to carry out the execution of bandits arrested in the Augustow forests.”

The killings have been dubbed “the Little Katyn,” in reference to the 22,000 Poles shot in 1940 by the Soviet secret police (NKVD).

The Polish government-in-exile in London had sanctioned the disbandment of the official resistance movement in January 1945, so as to avoid conflict with the Soviets, who were liberating Poland from the Nazis - which led to a Moscow-backed government being installed in Warsaw.

Rehabilitation – which has been sought for the victims of Katyn for many years – normally applies to those who have been unjustly sentenced in court.

The process would clear the victims of any stain on their honour under Russian law. (nh)

Copyright © Polskie Radio S.A About Us Contact Us